An Inspiring Visit by SAWBO Co-director Professor Julia Bello Bravo

by James Kamuye Kataru

The Mijikenda community that resides in the coast region of Kenya has a reputation for being good-nurtured. Their rich history and culture rotates around natural kindness to strangers, welcoming and generous to a fault. Other Kenyans from upcountry who visit this community tell stories of Mijikenda families who host strangers in their homes, share meals, and provide them with a warm place to sleep before giving them directions to their next destinations. Sometimes they even offer to escort the visitor  to ensure they don’t get lost!

SAWBO co-director Professor Julia Bello Bravo speaking during the meeting with SAWBO network volunteers. Photo credits: Kataru Concepts

When working with these communities, you experience the true nature of hospitality, but deep within, encounter social imbalances where women have very little say in the presence of men. It’s hard to explain whether it’s influenced by religion or culture. However, much needs to be done to empower the girl child and give her a voice in social change and development.

A visit on 3rd November 2023 by SAWBO co-director Professor Julia Bello Bravo was a boost to our team, which comprises more women volunteers than men at 30% and a demonstration to our coast region volunteers that indeed the “world needs more feminine voices to run things”.   

The meeting held at our Ganja la Simba office was attended by 15 volunteers drawn from Mombasa and Kwale counties, half of whom are women. Prof. Julia motivated the team with powerful words centered on how to serve their communities better. The session was followed closely on social media by volunteers from Kilifi, Tana River, Taita Taveta, and Lamu counties who could not travel to the venue.

Some of the SAWBO volunteers from the coast region who attended the meeting held at the Ganja la Simba office. Photo Credit: Kataru Concepts.

In her speech, Professor Julia emphasized the need for volunteers to be equipped with sufficient knowledge to provide solutions and handle other matters arising in their communities. She encouraged the network leadership to invest time in preparing volunteers to face the needs of their communities with boldness and an understanding of the digital educational content dissemination process.

In an engagement that lasted about four hours, Professor Julia left a lasting impression and hope in our female volunteers. These volunteers have taken on the challenge of reaching out to their communities with educative SAWBO animations on agriculture, health, and conservation which are the most pronounced thematic areas in the region. Such high-profile visits boost the morale of volunteers and invigorate their energy levels in the process of content dissemination. Thank you to Professor Julia for your visit and inspiration.

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